‘Two approaches to freemasonry’ explains that the view of freemasonry is characterized by two main approaches: idealization and distrust. It outlines two very opposed, but representative images of freemasonry. One idealizes the fraternity and its values, their impact upon introverted personal development and extroverted charity. The other, as in popular perception and governmental policies, is critical of secrecy, seeing it as a danger for society and transparency. A basic chronology is provided to place the themes of subsequent chapters within time and space. Religious and philosophical ideas in the Western tradition that have shaped the worldview of freemasonry are outlined, with an overview of the history and practices of freemasonry.